Charlottesville organization accuses Albemarle of violating Americans with Disabilities Act

The push is on to make the Moores Creek Bridge more accessible.
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 9:48 AM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The push is on to make the Moores Creek Bridge more accessible.

“There’s virtually no way for most people with mobility impairments to even get to the base of the bridge, much less climbed 12 feet of stairs that take you up to the top,” Tom Vandever said.

“It would be such very nice to be able to go on the bridge and look up and down Moore’s Creek and enjoy the view,” Jim Herndon said.

Vandever and Herdon work for the Independence Resource Center. For two years now, they say they’ve been trying to have the bridge fixed.

“The sad thing about it is it would have been very simple to have made it accessible at the time it was built, but that didn’t happen. So now we’re in the point of, well, how can we fix it?” Vandever said.

The nearly $15 million bridge was finished in 2020. It is owned by both Albemarle County and Woolen Mills, and allows access onto the Rivanna Trail.

In their most recent efforts, Vandever and Herdon sent a letter to the county and Woolen Mills: Dated July 19, it details what they consider to be “egregious violations” of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The county provided NBC29 the following statement: “Albemarle County staff is conducting a review of the items addressed in the letter received by the Independence Resource Center.”

Woolen Mills also sent a statement to NBC29 that reads: “The bridge over Moores Creek at the historic Woolen Mills was built as a public-private partnership with Albemarle County to offer a connection to the 20+ mile Rivanna Trail that did not previously exist. The bridge was designed and built to federal and Albemarle County standards and was reviewed by many engineers, contractors, County inspectors and FEMA personnel before approval. As the area where the bridge entrance is located is in the 100-year floodplain, any further construction, especially for a substantial ramp given the height of the bridge, could have altered the floodplain such that it made the entire bridge unfeasible. It is unfortunate that a letter from Mr. Vandever is targeting this one access point to the Rivanna Trail when the entire trail is not accessible to all individuals. There are many bridges and river crossings that currently exist that are not handicap accessible and have not been brought up in this discussion. If Mr. Vandever would like to address the accessibility of the entire 20-mile trail then that is a much larger discussion. We are happy to be part of any future discussion on this topic.”

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